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Prof Chris Ryan (VEIL)
T: +61 3 8344 9175
M: 0418374332

Prof John Wiseman (McCaughey Institute)
T: 0409171 495

David Scott (Media Unit)
T: +613 8344 0561
M: 0409024230

Dwindling resources and radical environmental change is putting access to essential services like food and water at risk, according to the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL).

Director of VEIL Professor Chris Ryan says that ‘distributed systems’, those that allow for decentralised, local and networked resource sharing, should be considered as a possible solution to this risk.

Released today, the VEIL and McCaughey Centre discussion paper ‘Distributed Systems: a design model for sustainable and resilient infrastructure’, highlights the increasing vulnerability of vital infrastructure services such as electricity, transport and water supply.

Co-author Professor Ryan says that current infrastructure is brittle and unable to cope with changing conditions from weather patterns to the future price of oil. 

“We need to look for alternative and innovative approaches to dealing with resource scarcity and environmental change.  Over the next few decades the way people obtain their food, water and energy will undergo a major evolution.”

“As a result, new designs for socially critical infrastructure and services are urgently needed to ensure access to these vital resources in a time of climate adaptation.”

“One pathway we can see is people no longer relying on industrial production units hundreds or thousands of kilometres, or even continents, away.  Instead they will source a greater proportion of essential resources, goods and services from within their ‘neighbourhood’.”

“Electricity is already showing signs of this transformation in most developed economies, with innovative arrangements of gas, solar, wind and biomass generators positioned throughout every region, feeding into the grid.”

“This evolution means a significant switch in people’s role within the economy and in their identity as citizens, moving from one of passive consumption to a more active engagement in production and exchange of economic and social capital.”

The discussion paper comes ahead of the ‘ReGeneration: distributed systems, sustainability and resilience’ conference to be held in Melbourne in 2011. 

For more information or a copy of the paper visit: